Students’ education about literary devices seems to max out with personification, similes, and other types of figurative language. But what about more complex tools?
Discussing types of conflict is a great first step towards building a strong narrative. Although the term conjures up images of ninja battles for many of our students, conflict can take on many more sophisticated forms than physical fights.
How can we apply literary themes, five act plots, and types of conflict to upgrade students’ personal narratives?
Let’s write a persuasive essay about one holiday from the point of view of another holiday’s “mascot.” For example, what would the Easter Bunny think about Christmas, how would Santa feel about Valentine’s Day, and what would a Turkey have to say about St. Patrick’s Day?
This week, we’re tackling the comprehension skill “story structure” featured in the Houghton Mifflin reading program. It’s absolute nuts and bolts (identify setting, character, and plot) and is part of the reading program beginning in Kindergarten. A quick pre-assessment verifies that my sixth graders have a thorough understanding of this material.
The long awaited handout for my recent narrative writing presentations!
Ask your students to write about their summer breaks, but remix their activities into a new genre or setting. Perhaps they vacationed at Hogwarts, Mordor, or Tatooine? Not interested in a writing assignment? Have them rewrite a Beatles song about their summer vacations.
Have your students write to a narrative theme established through imagery. Allow them to view some exciting photos, and then develop a well-structured story. Embed an enjoyable and meaningful writing process, and you just might have a fun monthly system established.
Teaching our students to prewrite, write, and rewrite is a difficult process. Much like getting students to show their work in math, process writing is a challenge for gifted students who work intuitively and are annoyed by artificial processes. What better motivation is there than the chance to point out someone else’s errors AND be rewarded for it?
Conflict is an essential tool for analyzing literature, understanding history, and improving as a writer. Each year, my 6th graders discuss the types of conflict commonly found in stories and analyze writing using the content imperatives.